Roberts-Smith war crimes defamation appeal continues

A wide-ranging challenge by Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith to rebuild his reputation and undo his defamation defeat will continue for its second day.

Feb 06, 2024, updated Feb 06, 2024
Ben Roberts-Smith. Photo: AAP

Ben Roberts-Smith. Photo: AAP

The ex-SAS corporal has attacked a judge’s findings he engaged in or was complicit in four unlawful killings of prisoners while he was deployed in Afghanistan.

The 45-year-old has always denied the allegations and has sued Nine-owned papers The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald plus The Canberra Times in the Federal Court for defamation.

He has not been criminally charged.

On Monday, his barrister Bret Walker SC challenged a June judgment tossing his client’s defamation lawsuit and finding allegations he engaged in the unlawful killings were substantially true.

In his submissions, Walker focused on findings that Roberts-Smith committed war crimes at a compound called Whiskey 108 in April 2009.

The judge found he ordered one insurgent to be executed by a soldier under his command, to “blood the rookie”.

Roberts-Smith also machine gunned another insurgent and took his prosthetic leg home to Australia for use as a beer drinking vessel.

Walker has attacked these findings as being based on implausible evidence which was contradicted by official military documents.

He said any conclusions reached by the court were erroneous and illogical.

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There was also no evidence that a nefarious cover-up was committed to conceal the unlawful killings and that numerous eye witnesses had given inconsistent testimonials about what actually occurred.

As such, the court erred in finding that Roberts-Smith engaged in the unlawful killings, he said.

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